FACTSHEET 1: SCOPE, NATURE & CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT INCIDENTS
VU University Amsterdam is conducting research on violent incidents against care workers in psychiatry. Mental health professionals were asked to fill in a questionnaire about their personal experience with violent physical incidents caused by patients in the past 5 years. The research addressed the fol owing questions: How often did mental health professionals become a victim of violent incidents? What was the nature of these incidents and what were the consequences? The answers to these questions can be found here. Victims were also asked what their reasons were for (not) reporting the incident to the police. The outcomes of this question can be found in Factsheet 2. Factsheet 3 contains information about the judicial reaction to a violent incident. METHOD
During the months of June, July and August 2011, Dutch mental health professionals were asked to fill in an online questionnaire. A website was designed to approach respondents. Respondents were also approached with help of the Union for Nurses (NU’91), the Dutch Association for Mental Health and Addiction (GGZ Nederland) and Social Media. In addition, flyers were distributed and announcements were placed in newsletters of the Dutch Association for Mental Health and Addiction and journals. Respondents were also asked to spread the questionnaire throughout their own network.
1534 Mental health professionals filled in the questionnaire. Most of whom were psychiatric nurses, sociotherapists, doctors and therapists. 31.4 Percent of the respondents were male. The majority (55.5%) worked at a general psychiatric hospital for adults (APZ). 67 Percent of the 1534 mental health professionals were victim of (the threat of) physical violence or fire setting, caused by a patient, at least once in the past five years. 1534 Mental health professionals reported a total of 2648 incidents, this means an average of 1.7 incidents per respondent. For every incident they reported, respondents were asked what the nature of the incident was. The reported incidents differ in nature and severity. TABLE 1: NATURE OF THE INCIDENTS* (n=2648) NUMBER** Threatened physically, possibly with weapon, object or liquid Attempt physical violence
Attempted hitting or throwing with weapon, object or liquid
Attempted stabbing with weapon or object
Hitting or throwing with weapon, object or liquid
Fire setting *Respondents were allowed to give more answers per incident **It was possible to fill in a maximum of 5 incidents per questionnaire
Almost half of the incidents resulted in physical injury or psychological damage to the victim. In some cases the consequences were severe. TABLE 2: VICTIMS INJURIES* (n=2617) No injury Physical injury Mental health problems
Alertness, nervousness, severely shocked
*Respondents were allowed to indicate numerous injuries per incident RECOVERY
Victims who suffered an injury were asked how long they needed to recover and if applicable, how long they were absent from work.
TABLE 3: TIME FOR RECOVERY TABLE 4: SICK LEAVE (n=1149) No recovery time No sick leave 1 day or less Less than 1 week 1 day - 1 week 1 week - 1 month 1 week - 1 month 1 month - 3 months 1 month - 3 months 3 months - 1 year 3 months - 1 year Over 1 year Over 1 year Possibly permanent (partly) Permanent injury incapacitated CONCLUSION
Mental health professionals who work in psychiatric institutions regularly encounter violence. This violence can have severe consequences. Over one third of the respondents in this research suffered physical injury and more than one quarter had mental health problems. One in seven victims needed more than one month to fully recover from the incident or was injured permanently. For more information about this project and publications seeCite as: Factsheet 1, Violence in Psychiatry, VU University Amsterdam, 2011.
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